"Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, . . I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do." John 17:1&4
". . .we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings,." Romans 5:2&3
I have good news for you, and bad. The good news is that we will share in the glory of Christ. The bad news is that Christ entered into his 'glory', finishing the work God gave him to do, on the cross.
Seldom, I suppose, do Christians envision "being with Christ" as "being with Christ, on the cross". "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24
In Lancaster County, the Amish respond to the shooting that killed the children at their school by offering forgiveness to the killer.
Martin Luther King, first in a jail, and finally in a pool of blood on that balcony in Memphis, following the path of suffering for the sake of others.
In my own case, the most transformative Spiritual experience occurred in the psych unit after hearing the words "Dave, you are an alcoholic." In the midst of all the suffering brought on by that disease, I encountered Christ, and found hope.
Many a Kingdom has been advanced by crusades and conquests, but never the Kingdom of God.
"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 6: 3-4
There is no rising, without the dying. There is no sharing in the glory of God, apart from the cross. This is an inconvenient truth. THE inconvenient truth.
Its not that suffering ought to be sought out for the sake of suffering. Suffering enough will touch each of our lives without our seeking it.
But it is the case, that in the midst of suffering, we will encounter the Christ -- for there he is, in the midst of it all. We may not recognize him. We may even feel he's abandoned and forsaken us. Even Jesus expressed those sentiments from the cross. But he is there.
One final thought: Even the Risen Christ bore the open wounds of the cross. "Follow me."
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